Man Says Plant At Botanic Garden Could Kill Children

Weatherford man says castor bean plant could kill a child.

Amateur botanist Keith Weeks loves to teach his two children about gardening and often takes them to the Fort Worth Botanic Garden for lessons. But Weeks said he was stunned to see the beautiful purple-leaved castor bean plant lining high-traffic areas within the garden because the seeds of the plant contain ricin.

"If a child chews and eats a castor bean, most likely, they'll die,"  Weeks said.

Andrea Brown, an amateur photographer who often uses the garden as a background for photo shoots, said she never knew toxic plants existed at the garden.

"I come here a lot and photograph children and I never knew. That's scary," she said.

Many of the plants are labeled but the castor bean plant is not.

Steven Huddleston, a senior horticulturist at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, said no children should be in the garden unsupervised.

"People need to respect plants and not eat them. Parents should teach their kids not to eat flowers, foliage or seeds," he said.

Weeks said he doesn't want the plants removed; he simply wants them labeled and deseeded. The castor bean plant without the seeds is not dangerous. 

Huddleston said he is considering labeling the plants. 

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